How Do Basketball Players Jump so High?

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Basketball is a sport that automatically gives athletic players an advantage because it requires high levels of speed and agility. And when we talk about athleticism, we either think of speed and a high vertical. A “high vertical” or the ability to jump high is an important skill in basketball since players spend a lot of time reaching for the ball or the basket. But here’s the thing: What if you’re not a naturally high jumper? Is there a way to increase your vertical jump for basketball?

Why Do Basketball Players Jump So High

Why Do Basketball Players Jump So High?

Before learning how to jump higher in basketball, you need to know why basketball players generally jump so high. Well, it pays to be a natural athlete, but in-born athleticism is not the end-all, be-all when we’re talking about jumping high. Basketball players can jump high because of their strength, allowing them to thrust themselves high into the air.

When we are talking about the science behind improving a vertical jump, it’s relatively simple. If you are strong enough to lift your body into the air, then you can jump high. Now, let’s say you worked on increasing your strength while possibly maintaining or even lowering your body weight, what would happen? Ding ding, bingo! You will be able to propel yourself higher into the air!

In short, if you want to increase your vertical jump for basketball, do strength exercises and keep your body weight down. That alone could do wonders for your vertical jump.

How Do NBA Players Increase Vertical Jump

How Do NBA Players Increase Vertical Jump?

Most NBA players are born athletes. They are the best players and athletes from their middle schools, high schools, and college. Even what fans would call “unathletic” players like Larry Bird could reportedly jump 28 inches. That’s an above-average jump for high school athletes and pretty much the baseline in the NBA.

So, how do NBA players increase their vertical jump? They hone everything that has to do with jumping. These are lower body strength and proper technique. To improve lower body strength, you need to exercise your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Jumping comes from the legs, so it would be natural to strengthen these muscle groups.

When it comes to proper technique when jumping, it is essential to be flexible. That means you will need to do flexibility and stretching exercises to increase your vertical jump for basketball. When you are flexible, you will get enough range of motion so that you can jump higher.

NBA Vertical Jumps Tidbits

  • The highest vertical jump recorded in the NBA draft combine is 48 inches. This was courtesy of Keon Johnson from Tennessee at the 2021 NBA Draft Combine.
  • Michael Jordan, Darrell Griffith, and Wilt Chamberlain were said to have 48-inch vertical leaps during their primes. If true, one of them has the highest vertical jump in NBA history.
  • Spudd Webb, known as the shortest NBA player to win the Slam Dunk Contest, was said to have a 46-inch vertical jump.
  • Vince Carter, who is considered the best dunker of all time, reportedly has a vertical leap of 43 inches.
  • The lowest max vertical leap recorded at the Draft Combine was 21 inches by Mike Smith.
  • Two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic had a 25-inch maximum vertical leap at the 2011 Draft Combine. He became a very good player, though, proving that jumping is not all there is to basketball.

What is the Secret to Jumping Higher

What is the Secret to Jumping Higher?

The secret to jumping higher is really science; physics, to be exact. If you want to familiarize yourself with the physics behind jumping, you’ll get the hang of it. Jumping higher all boils down to one thing– increasing the power to body-weight ratio. Power, as used here, is the product of strength and velocity (how quickly you can jump). In laymen’s terms, the stronger and quicker you are relative to your body weight, the higher you can jump. 

To put this in perspective, think of two basketball players. Player A weighs 180 pounds, and Player B weighs 210. Let’s say they are equally strong and can generate a maximum power of 250 pounds. Who do you think can propel himself up in the air? Needless to say, the lighter guy absolutely destroys the heavier guy in a vertical leap competition.

Concerning this, an overlooked factor when one wants to know how to improve jumping in basketball is taking care of your body. You need to eat right to maintain or lower your body weight, and you need to sleep early to keep yourself in tip-top shape. If you stay in shape, your body performs to its true potential. Too much alcohol, late-night parties, and unhealthy food can make you gain weight, negatively affecting your jumping ability.

5 Ways to Jump Higher in Basketball

5 Ways to Jump Higher in Basketball

1. Warm up and stretch

Sometimes, all you need to do is warm your muscles up and stretch. Little-used muscles such as the hip flexors can get tense, so simple stretches and a warm-up could do the trick. Do stretching and warm-up exercise, not only during games; make it a part of your daily routine.

2. Do leg-strengthening exercises

Depending on how serious you are as a basketball player, you may begin by doing jumping ropes. Jumping rope makes your calves stronger so that you can generate more upward force off the ground. 

Now, if you want to take leg-strengthening exercises to the next level, you may perform barbell deadlifts, split squats, and calf raises. In split squats, you can also use a dumbbell to add more resistance. Calf raises are simple enough that you can do it anytime and anywhere.

3. Do plyometric exercises

The goal of plyometric exercise is to use as much energy in as little amount of time. This type of exercise is suitable for athletic explosion, which is essentially what a vertical jump is. 

Plyometric exercises could be as simple as performing jumping jacks or as tricky as pulling off burpees. Still, the results could spell the difference between an explosive leaper and an average one. Plyometrics is indeed an effective way to increase your vertical jump for basketball.

4. Work on your technique

Basketball is a game of technique, which is why you see a 6-foot-5 guy like Draymond Green able to handle much bigger players in the paint. All of this requires refinement of technique, and you can take a similar approach when working on how to improve jumping in basketball.

As we have touched earlier, the power needed to lift yourself off the floor is basically your strength multiplied by your velocity (or speed). This explains why quick players are also some of the highest jumpers! Hence, if you can improve your horizontal speed, you improve your vertical leap.

Other techniques you should learn are bending the knees, balancing, and swinging your arms before jumping to create more upward force.

5. Do trampoline exercises

As we have repeatedly stated, leg strength is essential if you want to increase your vertical jump for basketball. One way to do it without hurting your joints is doing trampoline rebounding exercises. It will work your leg muscles, build endurance, strengthens bones, and is a great way to experience jumping in the air.

7 Video Exercises to Improve Jumping Higher for Basketball

7 Video Exercises to Improve Jumping Higher for Basketball

1. What you’ll surely love about this video is that there is nothing complicated in any of the steps. Plus, since the exercises require no equipment, you can do it literally anywhere.

2. This video by Steven Celi talks about the three simple steps on how to jump higher in basketball. He preaches a familiar concept but added a little flair to it.

3. Pro Training Basketball discusses a basketball-specific drill to help improve your vertical leap. If you like training in a basketball gym instead of the weight room, this is probably for you.

4. Basketball skills coach Collin Castellaw of ShotMechanics specifies drills you can do at home to improve your vertical. Many people, especially the younger players do not have access to gyms and weight rooms, so this is an excellent way to improve your jump without leaving the confines of your home.

5. One-leg jumps are essential if you want to finish better in the paint in traffic. These three jumping drills by Pro Training Basketball will help you do that.

6. Every true NBA fan knows who Ja Morant is, but do you actually know how high he could jump? The answer is 42 inches! Learn a few of Morant’s workouts here and who knows what could happen?

7. If you want something comprehensive and all-encompassing, this video by Coach Alan Stein is gold. Performing these 10 exercises regularly could surely add inches to your vertical leap.

Wrapping Things Up: How Do Basketball Players Jump So High?

It is estimated that a player could do as many as 60 jumping motions in a basketball game. No matter how you slice it, that’s a lot. Among those situations that require jumping are rebounding battles and shot challenges, basketball movements that put someone who jumps high at a clear advantage. 

This is why some of the all-time greats are considered high leapers. Michael Jordan, for one, was said to have a 48-inch vertical leap in his prime. LeBron James’ vertical jump is also reportedly north of 40 inches. 

What if you’re not a born athlete like a Jordan or a LeBron? Is there a way to you improve your vertical jump? Of course, there is!

The first thing to know is the science behind vertical jumps. Believe it or not, it only involves a simple concept in Physics: the higher your power to bodyweight ratio, the higher you’ll propel yourself in the air. Simply put, develop your strength, keep your body weight down, and you can jump higher.

To illustrate: Players A and B are just as strong, but Player B is 30 pounds heavier than Player A. Who do you think can jump higher? In this case, since their strength cancels each other out, the leaner man beats the heavier man in vertical leaps every time.

If you really want to know how to improve jumping in basketball, then be ready to perform exercises ranging from simple to complex. Watching YouTube videos from basketball skills coaches also wouldn’t hurt. Warming up and stretching are the basics while doing leg-strengthening exercises and plyometrics are the tougher ones. 

In any case, these are effective exercises to increase your vertical jump for basketball. You may not be breaking the record for the highest vertical jump in NBA soon, but your friends may be surprised at the extra spring that you can now show off.

Basketball is a sport that automatically gives athletic players an advantage because it requires high levels of speed and agility. And when we talk about athleticism, we either think of speed and a high vertical. A “high vertical” or the ability to jump high is an important skill in basketball since players spend a lot of time reaching for the ball or the basket. But here’s the thing: What if you’re not a naturally high jumper? Is there a way to increase your vertical jump for basketball?

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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